Many of us in our 20s and 30s struggle with loneliness. We may feel disconnected from the friends we were close to back at school or university; we may feel left behind as others settle down to get married or have children; or we may just feel uncertain about how to broaden our social circles in adulthood. Luckily, in recognition of International Friendship Day on Monday 30th July 2018, we’re here to help with advice on how to build and strengthen new friendships in your life.
1) Accept invitations.
If you want to make new friends, you need to put yourself out there. Accept invitations to events and social gatherings (like family weddings or neighbourhood parties) where you’re likely to meet new people. And when you’re there, don’t rely on others to initiate conversations that could lead to new friendships. Be the one to make the first move. Go and introduce yourself to those you don’t know. It can help to have a few go-to questions to hand; perhaps ask them about what they do for a living, or comment on something nice they’re wearing (just try to avoid talking about nothing but the weather). And keep in mind that you’re not going to make best friends with everyone you talk to, so there’s no need to put pressure on yourself. Just enjoying finding out where the conversation naturally takes you.
2) Join a club.
Join a club, like a sports club or voluntary group, to meet like-minded people doing something you enjoy. Building new friendships will feel less pressured if you’re in a big group where the focus is on something else. For instance, you’re not going to struggle to find a topic of conversation in a book club meeting when you’ve got the latest paperback to discuss. And if you start playing for a local football team, the action on the pitch is likely to distract you from any fears of getting to know your teammates. Make sure you make an effort to accept invites to things like after-club drinks though if you want to give blossoming new friendships a boost.
3) Go online.
The internet means we have the power to connect with new people all around the world whenever and wherever we may be. It’s particularly great if you’re naturally shy or struggle with face-to-face interactions. Whether it’s by playing interactive online casino games with other people, joining discussions in online forums, or even sparking connections on friendship-making apps, you’ll find lots of ways to meet new people using the power of the internet. Plus, social media is handy for getting back in touch and rekindling relationships with friends from long ago you may have lost touched with.
4) Be reliable.
If you want to make long-lasting friendships, you need to prove yourself as a reliable friend to have. There’s nothing worse than a flaky friend who cancels last minute or doesn’t turn up when they’re supposed to. Make the effort to stick to plans you make with new friends, or you’ll quickly find the relationship fizzles out before it’s even begun.
5) Be patient.
Creating long-lasting, meaningful friendships takes time. Be patient and try not to rush platonic relationships when it’s still early doors. Also, it’s important to accept that something things don’t work out. Like when you’re dating, you may realise after a few meet ups that the person you’ve began talking to isn’t quite the kind of person you can see yourself being friends with. That’s okay. Be polite but put your focus instead on the friendships you’re forming elsewhere.